Last month, CBS Sunday newsmagazine 60 Minutes aired a piece about the attack in Benghazi in September of 2012. Reporter Lara Logan interviewed, among others, a man claiming to be an eyewitness to the event who went by the alias of ‘Morgan Jones’ (and who was in reality, a security consultant named Dylan Davies). His account was riveting, horrific; he even claimed to have seen the body of the assassinated ambassador Christopher Stevens. After the piece aired there were several news stories wondering if this was a milestone, a turning point for the mainstream media. Prior to this, the media had been almost silent in questioning what occurred that evening, yet criticizing those who presented negative viewpoints over the lack of security before the attack and the so-called response from the Administration. I found it odd that throughout the 60 Minutes segment, no one, including Ms. Logan, mentioned the president nor then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, though both have culpability in the event.
But then, lo and behold, just a week later Ms. Logan was asked to retract her story and make a public apology on behalf of CBS and 60 Minutes for “getting it wrong.” CBS reportedly–once again–aired an inaccurate story with a highlighted witness who was lying about everything he claimed to witness. It turns out Mr. Davies was nowhere near the Benghazi diplomatic compound during those long hours of armed assault; he had written a contradictory account in an “incident report” to his employer. I read the WaPo piece and then later heard the retraction and apology from Ms. Logan–and both caused my antennae to go up. Immediately I begin to wonder, when did the requirements instilled in Journalism 101, that any story must be confirmed with two credible, independent sources, become relaxed? How was such a noted journalist like Lara Logan able to be duped with a story so easily confirmed or not? Why was not the producer of the piece, Max McClellan, much more careful, considering what had occurred previously with CBS’s then-anchor Dan Rather and his producer Mary Mapes?
There is additional criticism of Logan even covering the story in the first place since, in a speech she gave in Chicago, she publicly stated her opinion regarding the Administration and the many lies told about the Benghazi attack, including the false claims that the attack was a spontaneous response to outrage over a video piece on youtube. I have to wonder if this criticism isn’t convenient, in allowing those who wish to protect the Administration (including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton) from their culpability. It makes it look as though Logan has been no more than a media person who had already made up her mind, and looked to her ability to air that viewpoint during the most-watched news program on television. But then, I think twice about that; while it would be a reasonable criticism were her piece true and accurate, the very fact that she allowed her subject to completely bamboozle her, con her into putting his false story on the air, it debunks the notion she is the activist member. To me, it appears more likely that she was chosen for the role because she had allowed her opinion be known. What better way to shut up those of us who continue to press for the truth to be exposed than to have such a public fraud exposed? Does it not lend the notion that the rest of us are no more than conspiracy theorists who pay little to no attention to politics or news? Doesn’t this whole episode allow a kind of “Oh, that story again, it’s nothing” attitude?
Regardless, despite any fraud who was able to con whichever reporter into putting his lies into on-air broadcast, these facts still remain unknown, unanswered:
Why did not President Obama stay in the Situation Room to monitor events when he was informed sovereign U.S. soil was under armed assault, and that his personal representative to the area was missing?
Why didn’t the Commander-in-Chief order nearby military assistance to defend the diplomatic compound, the American citizens there? Why was a stand-down order sent along the chain of command?
Where did he go, and what was he doing all those long hours of the attack?
Why was no one except Hillary Clinton in contact with him?
What was their telephone conversation about; what did they discuss and, ultimately, decide? Was this the conversation in which they determined they would blame the video, and call the attack ‘spontaneous’? Did they agree to perpetuate this lie for their upcoming public appearances, including Obama’s speech to the United Nations?
Meanwhile, CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager has put both Logan and McClellan on a leave of absence for “an undetermined length.” They are going to suffer consequences, justifiably so, for their rather sloppy journalism. But I say something stinks here; this seems a bit too convenient, too simple for those who want the whole incident to just go away to indeed, just go away. That in and of itself is more than enough reason for it not to go away. There can be no closure to September 11, 2012 in Benghazi until we get the answers to all of the outstanding questions.